Zoo Animals Thematic Unit: Book of the Week GIVEAWAY

August 13, 2012

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: Starry Safari by Linda Ashman

Why we love this book:

The main character takes us on safari racing in her sturdy jeep. Beep! Beep! Beep! This safari jeep ride brings back memories of my own amazing safari ride. I love how the author uses action words and adjectives to bring the animals and adventure to life. Suddenly, a lion begins circling round. It pounces. CRASH!

Zoo Thematic Unit

But there’s nothing to fear! We find the little girl tucked safely in bed with her red jeep, surrounded by all of her animal toys. A wonderful example of where a child’s imagination can take her! Excitement, adventure, imagination and a sweet story all rolled into one.

When planning a thematic unit I like to keep things simple and to keep the focus on the children rather than on teacher prepared materials. I begin each unit with a big stack of read aloud books and then pull two that I will revisit many times throughout the unit study. These books are the types of books we highlighted in our post: How to Pick Good Books for Preschoolers

Zoo Thematic Unit

Zoo Animal Thematic Unit

Zoo Thematic Unit

Shared Reading

  1. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  2. Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. / Eric Carle
  • I will read these books over and over again throughout our theme study.
  • The children will begin to memorize the story and read along.
  • The children will begin to recognize easy familiar words and letter sounds.
  • Both books have simple, big, bold and bright pictures.
  • Both books have text that is simple and repetitive.
  • These books are written in a pattern style, with a rhythm that children quickly chime into.
  • These books include easy familiar words that help children build a little core of known words.
  • Both of these books introduce the children to new vocabulary.

Read Aloud

  • In addition to my two Shared Reading Books, I sprinkle the theme with wonderful children’s literature.
  • These books are often too looooooooooong for preschool and kindergarten children. I simply read a little one day, mark it with a bookmark and pick it up again latter in the day or the next day.

I Went On a Safari: FREE printable book

Guided Reading / Independent Reading

We have two FREE printable books for your Zoo Thematic Unit:

  1. I Went On a Safari
  2. Look Close, Look Close On Safari

Zoo Thematic Unit

Art Extension – Painted Zoo Animals


  • paper plates or circles cut from poster board
  • tempera paint


  1. I keep things simple!
  2. I set-up my art extension in the art center or at my guided teaching table.
  3. I work with about 4 students a time.
  4. I ask each child, “Which animal would you like to paint?”
  5. What color is a _______________?
  6. Do you see any patterns on the animal’s fur/skin?
  7. I keep things simple! Each child paints the color and pattern of the selected animal on a circle.
  8. I keep things simple! No googly eyes, no fluffy feathers, no ears, no eyes, no mouth . . .
  9. With each child, I write the animal name.
  10. These animals will be used to act out I See the Zoo Animals song adaptation.

Zoo Thematic Unit

Writing / Song  Adaptation / Drama

I See the Zoo Animals song adaptation to I Love the Mountains


  • large chart tablet
  • sentence strips
  • markers


  • Brainstorm a list of zoo animals, “What animals do you see at the zoo?”
  • Using the list of zoo animals, write a song adaptation: I See the Zoo Animals
  • Write a sentence strip for each child and animal.
  • The children can take turns displaying their animals and sentence strips as the class sings their song adaptation.

Zoo Thematic Unit

What a fun theme! And I haven’t even introduced math and the block center! I’ll be back next week with hands-on ideas for math and the block center . . .

Zoo Theme Planning Outline: FREE printableI’ve included a sample of how we brainstorm and plan for a thematic unit. Remember our first rule: keep it simple! I jot down ideas knowing I won’t use all of my ideas. This is truly a brainstorming form. And of course it is actually handwritten and very messy. I tried to clean-up this sample for you but it is still done in a very informal manner.

Print this FREE Zoo thematic plan: Zoo Animal Thematic Unit

Print this FREE Thematic Planning Outline

Life with Joyce

 Zoo Thematic Unit

We’re GIVING AWAY one copy of  Starry Safari by Linda Ashman.

To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

What is your favorite zoo animal. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite animal I saw on safari! (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

One entry per person, please.

No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Thursday, August 16, 2012

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, August 17, 2012. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!

Sharing this week at:

Hip Homeschool Moms



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara H August 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

We really like the monkeys!
I am amazed at how many great ideas you come up with! Thanks so much for shaing them with your readers. They really inspire me to do a better job with my boys!

Heather August 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I love the moose at our local zoo.

Tiffany August 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I love the elephants but it makes me sad to see them so confined.

Ellie August 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I love the zoos where you can watch the seals swimming underwater. I also love aquariums, with all the weird and wonderful critters you can find there.

Gidget August 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I love the squirrel monkeys and the cotton-top tamarins. I think I could stand there and watch them all day!

Sarah August 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I love the Elephants!

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